A glance at the weekend newspapers shows government departments putting up paid advertisements in the newspaper. These include the permanent secretary – Ministry of Finance setting the record straight on the country’s domestic debt position, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Justice on parliament’s recent amendment to curb powers of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and even the government spokesman (who’s the equivalent of a permanent secretary) on thetribal balance of the government (through an ad placed in all papers including the Nairobi star)
Of course its’ not just the government that has trouble getting their ‘facts’ out before the media – the Kenya land alliance on the Land Bill, former MP Basil Criticos claiming the government ‘grabbed’ his sisal farm, the National Bank of Kenya defending the government in the Criticos land sale etc.
With four major TV stations and a dozen newspapers and radio stations, the amount of stories churned out by the media is endless. But with politics dominating most of the media channels during this election year, it is easy for important facts to be addressed by interested parties – and the only way they can be assured that their story will be transmitted verbatim – no editing, slanting, filtering, or even buried by the media – to the public is by paying for an advertisement themselves – at a cost of about 70,000 shillings (about $1,000)
However, there’s a flip side to this. A media story is supposed to be balanced – and by placing a statement in the papers, they are telling their side of the story without challenge, or argument – and without an opposing view, a paid up statement is just an advertisement.
– The Electoral Commission of Kenya has enabled registered voters to check on the status of their vote eligibility online – just by entering a nation ID number or voter’s card number.
– Botswana residents living in Kenya have been invited to register to vote at the country’s high commission in Nairobi this month. That’s something Kenyans in the Diaspora can pressure for their local embassies to do for them also in future.